Making a press release
For making a press release, please use our Partnership Grants template press release and follow the step-by-step guide below to tailor it for your project. Make sure that you send your press release to the Danielle Haddad in the Royal Society press team for approval so we can help you get the biggest impact from it.
- Add all appropriate information about your school and project to the relevant sections of the template press release and when you are happy with it, ask someone else to proof read it for you.
- Check the release to see if it includes any information that will require third-party approval, such as quotes or information about any external organisations you are working with. If approval is required you should send the relevant person a copy of the release for their sign-off before it is sent out to local media.
- Send the completed press release, and the date you intend to issue it, for approval to email@example.com – this is particularly important if you have made significant changes to the template text.
Sending the press release
You may already have good contacts with certain local and regional newspapers, TV and radio, but if not, you could try ringing the main switchboard phone numbers. Failing that you can contact Danielle for help with this. Once you have got media contact details you should then contact them to establish who you should email your press release to.
If possible, you should have a picture or two of your project available for media use. If you don’t have good images, it may be worth taking some with a high resolution camera (300 dpi between 1MB and 2MB is ideal). Make sure that you get permission forms signed for any students featured in the pictures and then indicate at the end of the 'notes to editors' section of your press release that images are available. As your project has only just been funded there may not be anything to feature in a photo other than the children who will be working on it and perhaps an object relating to the work they will be undertaking. Don’t worry too much about this; some local newspapers may even send a photographer to your school. See 'Top tips' below for further guidance on getting good photographs of your project.
When it comes to physically sending the press release out you should:
- copy the full release, including logos, and paste it into the body of a new email message
- add the email addresses of your media contacts to the ‘Bcc’ section of your email (this will prevent every recipient seeing the entire distribution list.)
After the release has been sent
If you have time, follow up the press release on the day that you send it out with a phone call to the news desk. Find out if there is any more information you can provide.
In some cases, journalists will want to speak to some of the teachers and scientists involved in the project. You should make sure you know who will be doing interviews and confirm that they are available on the day you are issuing the press release.
Make sure you keep a log of any media requests and coverage so that you can easily access this information, as well as copies of any coverage you receive.
For further guidance on photography and interviews, read the sections below. If you would like to ask us a question about dealing with the press, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top tips on how to take photos for the media
Some media may send in a photographer if given the opportunity but if you are taking your own photographs to send them, the following guidance may help.
- Make sure your photograph is in sharp focus and good quality - it should not look washed out, blurry or muddy.
- Try to take high resolution images - if you have an adjustment for resolution your digital camera, set it for the highest resolution available.
- Your photo should be eye-catching - it should grab the attention of a reporter or editor who makes the decision on whether it is published or not. If it doesn’t interest you then it probably won’t interest an editor.
- A photo must illustrate the story you are telling – it should reflect the exciting project that you are implementing at the school and the interest/excitement of the young people participating in it. If you have any unusual/visually interesting equipment that you’re using for the project, perhaps try to incorporate that into the image.
- Arrange to take photos in brightly lit places - the best indoor shots are in rooms with lots of daylight. Daylight is always better than artificial light, so avoid rooms without windows, such as hallways, gymnasiums, auditoriums, offices and garages.
- Get as close as possible - even in photos of people doing something, it is important to get as close as you can, so the people's faces and actions are clearly portrayed.
- Get the fronts of people, not the backs - make sure that you frame the photograph properly, so that the subject is centred, and you do not chop off their arms, legs or heads
- Don't crowd a photograph with people or subjects - around five or six people to a shot is best, but be flexible.
- Get identification and include event details - Newspapers generally will not be happy about printing photos without the names of people and where they live. If there are 3 to 6 people easily identifiable in a photo, get the names. If it’s a large crowd shot, it isn’t necessary to get everyone’s name. Also, the newspaper will need to know what happened, when, where and as many details as possible about the event.
- Make sure that you get photo permission forms from any pupils featured in the pictures. You can download our consent form here.
Media interviews tips
Below are some general points for handling all media interviews. Tips specifically for broadcast media interviews are further down.
- If you get caught off guard by a journalist calling you, don’t feel you have to speak to them that moment. Find out what their deadline is and make an agreement to call them back before that time. This will give you a chance to gather your thoughts.
- Write down the three key messages you want to get across in the interview, so you can refer to them and stick to them. Do not feel pressured by the journalist to talk further on a topic unless you are confident you know what you are talking about.
- Avoid too much jargon – remember the interviewer may not be an expert in science or education.
- If you don’t know the answer to the question, don’t make it up! Tell the journalist you will find out and get back to them.
- Never say ‘no comment’ – the journalist will assume this affirms their question!
- Be enthusiastic – this will be projected to the interviewer, and make them more likely to write favourably.
- Remember there is no such thing as ‘off the record’!
Additional tips for broadcast media interviews
- Speak slowly and clearly and remember to smile (even on radio!).
- Imagine the interview as a conversation between you and the presenter. Although remembering not to be too informal, it will help you relax and allow conversation to flow more freely.
- On radio, do not shuffle any paper notes you have brought with you, as the sound will be picked up.
- On TV, dress appropriately and professionally. Don’t wear very bright colours or too much pattern, as this will be distracting.
- Don’t look at the camera – look at whoever is asking the question.